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The Cost of Having School Dropouts in Texas

The Cost of Having High School Dropouts in Texas
            Being a high school dropout is a problem that touches on many aspects of an individual’s life and the community. It may reduce life expectancy for individuals, increase crime rates within the community, and expand the government’s deficit for social services, including incarceration and free healthcare. An intervention should target specific groups at an early stage of childhood development.
Problem statement
The high school dropout problem has a far-reaching impact on individuals, the community, and the nation. The problem concerns the relatively high school dropout rate in Texas compared with other states in the northern part of the US. High school dropouts are associated with high costs to the state and the nation in terms of government transfers. In 2001, 40 percent of high school dropouts, aged between 16 and 24, received some form of government assistance (Bridgeland, Dilulio, & Morison, 2006). It shows that a high number of high school dropouts increase the government’s burden in providing social services. Dianda (2008) explains that high school dropouts have a higher risk of developing diseases, such as cancer and diabetes, compared with those who graduate high school. Dianda (2008) also considers the burden they create by contributing less in terms of taxes. Bridgeland et al. (2006) suggest that it costs the nation between $1.7 and $2.3 million for each high school dropout who is linked to crime and drug abuse. Bridgeland et al. (2006) explain that high school dropouts are eight times more likely to be arrested and detained than regular high school graduates. They are also more likely to earn less, averagely $9,200 less per year, than their counterparts. In the worst case scenario, high school dropouts are likely to form a larger part of the unemployed because a high school certificate is the minimum qualification for most of the jobs (Dianda, 2008). They are also more likely to live in poverty, divorce, and to raise children as single parents. Their children are also more likely to become high school dropouts because the problem is positively correlated with low income levels and living in poor neighborhoods (Blue & Cook, 2004). Attitudes and early childhood development affect high school dropout rates (Burrus & Roberts, 2012).
Texas is among the southern states that have a higher high school dropout rate in the US. High school dropout is a problem that concerns the whole of the US with some regions having higher dropout rates than others. States in the southeastern part, such as Florida and Alabama, had some of the highest average dropout rates between 1991 and 2002 (Bridgeland et al., 2006). Texas was categorized among states with an average high school graduation rate of 60-69 percent in that period (Bridgeland et al., 2006). In other words, one-third of high school students did not graduate under the regular program in Texas between 1991 and 2002. Considering more recent data, Texas has improved. For example in the period 2004-05, high school graduation rate was 84 percent in Texas (Dianda, 2008). However, Dallas, which is my community area, is among cities that had low graduation rates at 44.4 percent in the period 2003-04 (Dianda, 2008). Dianda (2008) elaborates that urban areas were more likely to experience low graduating rates at 58 percent compared with suburbs at 75 percent in 2005. Texas is the second state with the highest number of school considered weak at promoting higher rate of high school graduation. Florida has the highest number of schools with weak promoting power and Georgia is the third (Dianda, 2008). In Texas in the period 2011-12, the dropout rate was 2.5 percent (Stark & Noel). It is lower than the national average, which is at 3.4 percent. Critics suggest that the rate shown by national data bases could be lower because they include those who have attained an alternative high certificate, such as the General Educational Development (GED) certificate. Heckman & LaFontaine (2007) suggest that there are no significant differences in national trends. Differences occur as a result of using different methodologies. The “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001 was an indication that the government was concerned about the plight of people who fail to graduate from high school on the regular program (Heckman & LaFontaine, 2007).
Nationally, the dropout trend differs by race and income levels. According to year 2012 data, Stark & Noel (2015) explain that the high school dropout rate is 6.8 percent among Blacks, 5.4 percent among Hispanics, 1.6 percent among Whites. In 2012, 5.9 percent of students from low-income families dropped out compared with 1.3 percent for high income families (Stark & Noel, 2015). Dropout rates were higher among students who are older than the high school age. The national determinants do not vary much from those of Texas as shown in the graph below (Blue & Cook, 2004).
Figure 1: The dropout rate for the class of 2002 in Texas
Source: Blue & Cook (2004).
In Figure 1, the high school students who enrolled in 1999 and graduated in 2002 are traced for a period of 4 years (Blue & Cook, 2004). Their dropout rates are the result of a longitudinal study.
The high school dropout rate in Texas has improved significantly in recent years, though the dropout rate in Dallas remains high. Generally, American cities have high dropout rates than suburban areas. There is a need to target the specific groups that are affected with high dropout rates with an intervention. Higher minimum wages can enable many minimum-wage workers to meet their basic needs. The problem with the high school dropout situation is that people who fail to graduate are more likely to have their families tied up in the same situation for another generation. It affects their lifestyles. In most cases, they may choose unhealthy lifestyles and develop chronic diseases. It may result in the government and the community spending more money to cover healthcare services. The high school dropout problem is associated with crime and drug abuse because people without a high school diploma may be less likely to be employed. Targeting the problem through a community-based intervention may reduce crime rates. A community-based intervention is appropriate because attitudes and early childhood development affect high school dropout rates.
Blue, D., & Cook, J. (2004). High school dropouts: Can we reverse the stagnation in school          graduation? Study of High School Restructuring, 1(2), 1-11.
Bridgeland, J. M., Dilulio, J. J., & Morison, K. B. (2006). The silent epidemic: Perspective of         high school dropouts. Retrieved from www.gatesfoundation.org
Burrus, J., & Roberts, R. (2012). Dropping out of high school: Prevalence, risk factors, and           remediation strategies. R & D Connections, (18), 1-9.
Dianda, R. M. (eds.) (2008). Preventing future high school dropouts: An advocacy and action       guide for NEA state and local affiliates. Washington, DC: National Educational      Association.
Heckman, J. J., & LaFontaine, P. A. (2007). The American high school graduation rate: Trends     and levels. IZA Discussion Paper, (3216), 1-60.
Stark, P., & Noel, A. (2015). Trends in high school dropout and completion rates in the United      States: 1972-2012 (NCSE 2015-015). Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education          Statistics.

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